THE uncontrolled loss of mangroves in urban and peri-urban areas is a huge concern for the World Wildlife Fund Pacific.
WWF South Pacific Programme said Fiji cannot afford to lose any more given the proposed rezoning of Waibola from residential to heavy industrial.
In their letter to the Lami Town Council objecting the proposal, WWF-Pacific representative Kesaia Tabunakawai said conversion of mangrove land into types of proposed developments will negatively impact fisheries in the bay.
"The mangroves of Draunibota Bay are one of the few large remaining stands of mangroves in the Suva area," Ms Tabunakawai said.
"Many of Suva's mangroves have been cleared in the past and as a result, coastal communities now have to spend large amounts of money, either replanting those same mangroves or investing in expensive rehabilitation works, to keep the shoreline from eroding.
"This would not have to happen if the mangroves are kept intact."
She said as proponents of sustainable development, and the emerging Green Growth Framework for Fiji policy, WWF supports the use of checks and balances not to discourage development but to ensure that a fair and open process of consultation with the public is followed.
"Development is necessary but it should and can progress in a way that is mutually beneficially for the developers, the environment and those that depend on the natural resources for their sustenance and livelihoods.
"This also includes making wise decisions about the types of development allowed in vulnerable areas."
Ms Tabunakawai said Lami, particularly Draunibota Bay, still retains some pristine areas, which made it an attractive place for people to settle and trade.
"Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past by sacrificing this natural capital to the interests of unrestrained and harmful development. It is not too late to save Draunibota Bay."
Lami Town Council special administrator Jasper Singh said all objections to the proposed development had been forwarded to the Director of Town and Country Planning for the final decision.